Our "Perfect" Homeschool
by Tamara Eaton
Recently someone asked me what I would like to change about our homeschool. I thought about it for several minutes, but I couldn't think of anything I wanted to change. For the past few years, we've reached a homeschooling plan and style that suits our family just perfectly!
No, our children aren't perfect or even perfectly educated in all areas yet. (William and I aren't either!) We are all still growing in the Lord and learning more every day and plan to continue to do so by His Grace! I'm sure there will be wonderful new books and maybe even new curriculum that comes our way next fall, but our basic style of homeschooling will stay the same and we will continue to rest in the Lord and trust in Him to lead the way.
What is our homeschool style? We have a *lifestyle* of learning and it is a relaxed method which truly lasts year round, often including weekends and evenings! BUT we only make assignments for four days a week and we feel free to take breaks whenever we need so that no one gets burned out, including Mama!
Our first priority is discipling our children and encouraging them in their walk with the Lord and in His Word. We work hard on child- training and seek to be diligent, leaning *heavily* upon the Lord for His wisdom and direction. We work on our relationships with each other...homeschooling gives us time to perfect those areas that need perfecting! We spend a LOT of time together, we need to get along well! We encourage teamwork--in everything from caring for the house to cooking meals and doing laundry, and helping each other out.
Then comes academics...we stress the basics, giving our children the tools they need to go on and learn things on their own. We encourage and train them to be self motivated and responsible for their own studies as early as possible--with us available if they need us and as their #1 cheerleaders!
We don't overburden our children with too many assignments so that they have plenty of time to pursue their own interest studies, too. We encourage their love of reading by reading aloud to them from an early age, then teaching them to read when they're ready and continuing to encourage them to enjoy good books of all sorts-- nonfiction and biographies, as well as fiction. So much learning occurs painlessly this way!
We stay home a LOT. Too many outside activities are a killer for me, and I have learned to accept my physical limitations and concentrate on what needs to be done most in this season of my life--caring for my family. It's painful to have to say no often, but it's even more painful to say yes then regret it or suffer for it. I have all the energy I need to do what the Lord requires of me, and no extra!
Here is an example of our homeschool day. I'm a morning person so I wake up naturally around 5:30-6:00 a.m. I use this short time alone (before my youngest two wake up and join me) to read, pray, and take care of the Christian Homeschool Forum and respond to emails. The younger ones wake up anywhere from 6:30-7:00, so I have them play quietly and usually give them juice or fruit to keep them until we have breakfast. I continue to work on the computer for a while longer or read.
The other kids wake up at different times, finally the noise wakes William (or my bringing him coffee does!) and we all eat a simple breakfast. Afterwards, the three older daughters clean the kitchen and den while I supervise the younger two getting dressed and clean up their room (with their help) and straighten up the bathrooms and master bedroom.
William has gone to work by this time or is making business calls, doing paperwork, etc. and my oldest son either goes with him or works on anything that I have him to do around the house before he starts school work. Sometimes I have him run the vacuum, or scrub a bathroom. This morning I asked him to check out our dryer which hadn't been working efficiently, so he took it apart and fixed it.
I get the two youngest started on playing something in their room or let them play outside, and I usually wash a load of clothes and take some out of the dryer to fold. When it's time to put them away, I pass out loads to everyone who is going in the right direction and we get everything put up. Then I check on the progress of the rest of the clean up crew and make sure everyone knows of any extra schoolwork assignments and that no one has any questions.
The oldest four then get to work on their own, making sure they get their math done, work some on any current studies, read, write, use the computer to work on projects or email friends or even participate in an online book discussion! All sorts of educational pursuits! Someone (usually my oldest daughter or me) starts the bread dough so it will be ready for lunch.
I check on the younger ones (or most likely, they check on me, they keep me posted regularly on what they're doing!), and they will ask me to help them work some in their BJU math books (1st and 2nd grades) or we'll cover some phonics and then take a break and read aloud from a book. This morning, we read aloud from a book about birds that was written in 1909, and we observed the mama cardinal sitting on a nest with two eggs right outside my bedroom window. That lead to all sorts of interesting discussions! Yesterday we worked together on our river and boats unit study and talked about water safety while they colored the pictures and then hung them up in their room.
Everyone makes a quick lunch, either the older kids or I will make the youngest two something, the others do their own. We keep it simple and have sandwiches, salads, pasta, leftovers, etc. After lunch, or while I eat, I check the Christian Homeschool Forum again usually...scanning messages and answering any urgent emails. Then I check with all the kids to see how they're doing and if no one needs my help, I'll grab a book and take a little while to read while the youngest ones play inside or outside, or work on their own little projects. Often, they'll want my help to spell something they're writing or to read them "just one more story!", which I try not to ever refuse to do! Or they read to me while I crochet!
At 2:00, it's NAPTIME! I don't always sleep, but I do always rest, and I make sure that my youngest two do, too. Sometimes I let them watch a quiet video during this time. There is usually an older sibling in the den with them, keeping an eye on them. The older ones use the computer during this time, read, write, finish any schoolwork, bake, do crafts or hobbies, etc.
3:00, it's SNACK TIME! We aim for something healthy, but give in to freshly baked homemade cookies sometimes, too! The kids then play outside, do whatever! If I'm awake yet, I do more laundry, go outside and work a little in the yard, spend time with the kids, etc. If everyone else is busy and I have nothing pressing, I read or write. Today we all spent time outdoors working on our gardens and doing yard work and writing down our progress reports for our Amanda Bennett Gardens Unit Study. Afterwards, one of my older daughters volunteered to make supper so I could take a quick shower and the other kids could finish up their work.
4:30-5:30 We usually make supper, taking turns planning and cooking it. I do it about half the time probably, but our older four kids are good cooks and when I was very sick last year, they cooked full time with some help from William. We all actually enjoy cooking, but it helps if we don't have to do it ALL the time! We cook mostly from scratch but try to keep it simple and nutritious...lots of baked chicken, rice, salads, pasta, or roasts and vegetables, etc. Things that we can put on earlier in the day are great, too. If all else fails and we've had a busy day and not much time or energy to cook, we have a breakfast-type supper with eggs or pancakes and trimmings!
After supper, the kids clean up the kitchen, I spend time with them and with William. We go over anything the kids need help with or look over anything they've done that they want to show us, have interesting discussions, read aloud with our youngest two children, sometimes play music and sing together, then tuck the youngest two in early at 7:00 most nights.
The rest of the evening is devoted to reading, more discussions, study, music, writing, etc. I ride my exercise bike if I haven't earlier then try to get to bed by 10:15. When I write about our day, it seems quiet (HA!) and organized! Well, my house is semi-organized, we're in a routine to be sure...but I have lowered my standards for housekeeping so they are reasonable for a large family that homeschools and has kids active in the house and yard all day long. (Which means we'd never make the cover of House Beautiful!) We strive to have a home that is warm, cosy, comfortable, welcoming and filled with the love of God! (Not to mention being able to find a few matching pairs of socks.) But no white glove tests allowed right now in this season of our life! (And I keep having to just buy more and more socks!)
The noise level here gets pretty high sometimes! There almost ALWAYS is *someone* talking to me about *something*. I wouldn't know what it was like to be able to read a book without constant interruptions! But I LOVE it, yes, Lord, I LOVE IT! Each day is a special gift from the Lord and I am eternally thankful for the privilege to be a joyful mother of children!
If I begin to feel overwhelmed, immediately I take time to seek the Lord and cut out everything but the bare necessities. I manage to get more accomplished by limiting phone calls and outside activities, too. They can both REALLY eat up your time. Some people probably don't understand why I have to do this, but if they wanted to trade places with me for a few days, I'm sure they'd suddenly understand!
I am definitely not "supermom", but I have learned through the years not to try to do too much, the importance of training my kids to be responsible and promoting teamwork, and to keep my priorities in proper order. I want to live in a way that I won't regret in the future. The key is knowing the Lord's will for OUR family and then walking in it! Only then will we be assured of having all the grace, strength and wisdom we need, and when we look back one day, we won't grieve for the way we've spent this time!
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2001, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."